This 3-Word Mantra Will Make Your Job Easier and Less Stressful How to empower your team to increase productivity and decrease stress.

By James P. Friel

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Have you ever felt like the people who work for you are eating up too much of your time asking you for help? That the very people you hired to help you somehow became one of your biggest sources of stress?

If so, you may find yourself getting to the end of your day feeling like the only thing you do was answer questions. Fortunately, there's a simple strategy to allow your team to do more of the heavy lifting while you stay focused on what matters most.

It's called the 6-inch putt.

Even if you've never played a round of golf in your life, this will make sense, so stick with me.

When you play a hole of golf, it takes a bunch of different shots to ultimately get the ball into the cup. First, there's the drive off the tee box, then a fairway shot, then an approach shot to get you on the green and then a putt or two to wrap up the hole.

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There's only one shot that's easy—when the ball is within six inches of the hole. When the ball is that close, even a horrible golfer should be able to tap it in without a lot of issues.

So what does all of this have to do with your team and your business?

Your employees should be doing the heavy lifting, not putting all of the work back on you. They need to present you with 6-inch putts.

The stress-busting 6-inch putt

In practical terms, here's the difference between someone not bringing you a 6-inch putt versus bringing you a 6-inch putt.

Not bringing you a 6-inch putt:

"What do you think we should do about XYZ?"

This approach requires you to do the thinking and problem-solving. When you have to do this repeatedly, it consumes your time and mental bandwidth.

Bringing you a 6-inch putt:

"Here is the challenge we're facing and here are three options to help us overcome this challenge. Which option do you think is best?"

In this case, your team does the heavy lifting and you just have to make one quick, informed decision.

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The people who work for you need to be the ones taking all of the shots and getting the ball to you when it's only six inches from the cup. So how do you get your team to present you with "6-inch putts?" It's as easy as teaching the concept as the new normal.

Establish the 6-inch putt as the expected standard

Invest time into one meeting to lay out the expectation for your team (you'll be glad you put in this effort later!) Teach your team to follow a three-step process for approaching you with problems:

Step 1: Define the challenge with a concise 1-2 sentence description.

Step 2: Come up with 3-5 possible solutions.

Step 3: Present the options.

Related: 3 Stress-Busting Relaxation Exercises You Can Do Anywhere (60-Second Video)

Once your employees have defined the problem and generated three solutions, then they can come to you. The conversation should follow this standard template:

  • "Here's the challenge we're facing…"

  • "Here are some potential solutions…I recommend this one..."

  • "Which option do you think is best?"

Review that template regularly with your team. They might need reminders at first, but soon enough, this approach will be second nature to everyone!

With the 6-inch putt process, your employees can take initiative, offer contributions, and keep your bandwidth free for all of the things that only you can do.

Wavy Line
James P. Friel

Founder & CEO

Known by many as the King of Systems, and James specializes in helping entrepreneurs become successful CEOs. James says that breaking complex problems down into small actionable steps is his superpower.

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